The NDP has chosen to wait to respond to the budget, as the Liberals underline priorities of transit expansion, an Ontario pension plan and big spending.
And remember to hold on tight to your wallet – there’s an extra $3.4 billion in spending this year and you’re paying for it.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa has tabled Ontario’s largest budget ever, a 368-page document with a $11.3 billion deficit for this past fiscal this year. Sousa claims they are still on track to balance the books by 2017-18 but the deficit will be going up to $12.5 billion by the end of this fiscal year. That’s because of a hole left in general revenues after bringing in more cash through new taxes and paying for transit and infrastructure expansion.
Here’s a breakdown
How it hits your pocketbook:
-The budget outlines transit funding tools, with plans to raise $29 billion in the province over 10 years ($15 billion for GTHA projects). The one that will hit you most is a phased in tax on aviation fuel of four cents a litre over four years – which might affect the price of plane tickets. (More details on transit funding tools below)
-Aside from transit funding, there’s a tax increase of 1.6 cents per cigarette – which changes the price of an average carton from $24.70 to $27.95.
-Tax brackets have shifted from four to three. Personal income taxes will go up for those making $150,000 a year – which will affect 2 per cent of all those who file taxes. Of the 115,000 people making up to $220,000 would pay $425 more a year. Of the 105,000 people making over $220,000, they will pay $5,500 more.
-Expanding on plans from last year, the province is pushing forward in 2014 with HOV lanes on the 410 through Mississauga and Brampton and on Highway 427, all the way up to Vaughan.
- The budget says province will start widening the 401 near Cobourg by the end of the year as well.
- Even though the Finance Minister has said her wanted to put HOV lanes on the 401 “as soon as possible,” the budget says they will be added in Halton and Peel regions starting in 2019-20.
- The 407 “Phase 2” from Harmony Road in Oshawa to Highway 35/115 in Clarington will start construction this year.
-Funding tools include: the aviation fuel tax, restricting large corporations from claiming the small business deduction and restricting the fuel-tax exemption for road-building machines. This is on top of previously announced initiatives like: future High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane revenue, green bonds, the trillium infrastructure fund, 7.5 cents of the existing gas tax and using the HST made on gas and diesel fuel.
-The province wants to work with the federal government to get funding for transit expansion.
-Ontario says it will borrow money if it needs to.
-The budget lists already-introduce transit projects such as: new Toronto streetcars, Union station expansion, the Pearson-Union Express, the Eglinton Crosstown, the new Toronto streetcars, the Scarborough subway extension, and the subway extension to Vaughan.
-The budget introduces the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, which will be mandatory for everyone without a workplace pension plan. It would require equal contributions of both employees and employers of 1.9 per cent each (3.8 per cent combined) up to a maximum annual earnings of $90,000.
-Someone making $45,000 a year would be contributing $788 a year. If you make $70,000, you’ll contribute $1,263 annually. Those who bring in $90,000 a year will contribute $1,642.
-Legislation will be presented in the fall outlining timelines and administrative costs.
-As Newstalk 1010 told you first, there’s an extra $11 billion in spending for capital grants over 10 years – money used by school boards to build new schools and renovate existing ones. This includes a four-year, $750 million plan to deal with capacity issues.
-$11.4 billion in healthcare funding for capital projects over the next 10 years, including the MacKenzie Vaughan Hospital and Toronto’s Mount Sinai’s Women’s and Infants’ Project.
- An increase to $11/hr minimum wage.
-Plans to build an integrated Toronto Courthouse, with little details.
-$2.5 billion for corporate grants.
-$50 million for in-vitro fertilization treatments.
-$1 million more devoted to seniors to keep them in their homes longer.
-Three year, $269 million for increased wages for childcare workers.
-Three year, $280 million for increased wages for personal support workers.
- The budget does not put in place a public sector wage freeze, noting any wage increases negotiated by unions would be absorbed by employers.